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Raise the Roofs event continues to boost Franklin’s parks

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The eighth annual Raise the Roofs event on Saturday celebrated Friends of Franklin Parks supporters with an exhibition polo match featuring the Franklin scholastic polo team, plenty of good food, libations and fellowship. It also provided supporters new and old the opportunity to be a part of new projects and new phases of ongoing projects.

Emcee Buzz Brainard, a local radio personality, presented special Best Friends awards to Mayor Ken and Linda Moore, Barry and Jackie Alexander, Chuck and JoEllen McDowell, Judy Hayes and the Harlin family. The awards, commemorative brick pavers with names engraved on them, will be installed near the historic main barn after restoration is completed.

“When we started the campaign for the main barn, they really stepped up,” said Dr. Monty McInturff, one of Harlinsdale’s biggest cheerleaders. 

A public-private partnership supported by individuals, families, corporations and other nonprofits, the Friends of Franklin Parks has raised more than $2 million for parks in Franklin since the first Raise the Roofs event eight years ago. It has also created opportunities for more people to become involved in the community. 

Although a primary focus of Raise the Roofs has been making improvements at the Park at Harlinsdale Farm to showcase the past, present and future of equine agriculture and to support the effort to bring horses back to Harlinsdale, other parks have also benefitted from the partnership. 

According to Adam Ballash, Friends’ board president, money has also gone to add the storybook trail, modern pavilion and ping pong tables to Pinkerton Park in addition to making its playground equipment more inclusive for “everyone to enjoy regardless of their disabilities.” The same is true for the inclusive park on South Carothers Road, which is still under construction, 

Funds have also helped with walking trails and a walking bridge over the Harpeth River on the river walk that connects Franklin’s walking trails. 

The master plan for Harlinsdale Park includes restoration projects for the main barn, the Hayes House, two worker houses and the power station, which was also an interurban railway stop. The power station once supplied power to Franklin and the interurban electric railway, which ran from Nashville to Franklin.

During the evening, state Reps Sam Whitson, Brandon Ogles and Glen Casada and state Sen. Jack Johnson announced that Tennessee has appropriated $100,000 grant to be used toward restoring the exterior of the main barn.

Preservation deeds are being sold at $200 per square foot to raise the almost $600,000 needed to restore the 4,200 square foot Hayes House. 

Mayor Moore and his wife were among the first to invest in the house with their purchase of 250 square feet at a cost of $50,000. Chuck and JoEllen McDowell also purchased 250 square feet — and about an eighth of an inch — with their $50,001 donation.

Possibilities for the 8,000-square-foot brick power station shell include a museum focusing on the history and impact of the horse in Williamson County and Tennessee, local agriculture and as an event space.

What was once a dream in 2004, when the city purchased the historic farm, is slowly becoming a reality through the unique public/private partnerships that created the visions and are now making the dream a reality.

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